While the flood of new programs and resources from D.C. has left business owners inundated with contradicting, sometimes fraudulent information, one volunteer organization is making a difference for Utahns who need financial assistance to keep their businesses and pay their employees.
Utah’s Rapid Response Team (RRT), which was organized just this month, has been fulfilling the goal of the Economic Response Task Force to level the economic dip caused by COVID-19. By increasing bandwidth on the front lines, the team helps business owners find answers about the critical programs being rolled out from the CARES Act.
The RRT, which has grown to 50 volunteers from ~20 organizations, includes professionals working across multiple sectors and ranging from Gen Z to Baby Boomers. Each team member dedicates 10-15 hours a week to answer requests for help, sometimes from the businesses they were visiting just weeks ago that now might not be able to survive.
By the luck of the draw, one volunteer responded to an inquiry from a salon she used to frequent. “It broke my heart,” she said, “I emailed her and she responded immediately and was so grateful. I was crying at my desk yesterday as I worked on cases.”
According to JP Morgan Chase, most small businesses only hold enough cash reserves to keep their business going about 27 days. For these Utahns, every minute counts and many feel they are on the brink. A local daycare center, which was facing thousands in debt after losing both its customers and employees, had shut down seemingly overnight.
“When the owner learned what financial assistance she was eligible for, she was so grateful and began to cry,” shared an RRT volunteer. “On my end, I was fighting back tears and was trying to be professional. It was so amazing to be in the position to support her and to know that her business could be saved.”
These volunteers are working late hours and weekends to answer requests. Despite only having met through Zoom calls featuring terrible virtual backgrounds, the team has ramped up to rapidly answer 1000+ inquiries in less than a week of operation.
Most businesses get a response within one business day. If you know a business owner in need of help, please help them reach out to the Rapid Response Team by visiting coronavirus.utah.gov/business and clicking “Submit Help Request.”
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